Materials Matter: ICON's South Downtown Atlanta Book
ICON dug deep into South Downtown Atlanta's history to tell a story about its future through texture and typography.
Using a variety of papers, with contrasting texture, color and finish is a great way to project the feeling of physical place in print.
Atlanta-based design consultancy, ICON was tasked by their client, Newport RE with creating a visual identity system for Georgia’s historic South Downtown Atlanta. Home to the largest collection of historic buildings in the city of Atlanta, South Downtown Atlanta’s eight city blocks hold the history of where and how Atlanta began, evolved and became the cultural and commercial center of the South.
"We wanted to create a piece that somehow captured the idea of many layers — of history, of the diversity of industry, of culture — and decided that paper could play a leading role in delivering this concept,” said ICON.
When asked where ICON drew inspiration from for this project, they said, “from the visual language of South Downtown itself—the patterns of tile from old retail emporiums. The typefaces adorning the walls of the mom-and-pops. The architecture. The many colors of brick and cement. The stories of the people who live, work and make art in South Downtown.”
ICON adds, “From that position, we developed an identity inspired by the signage and type found throughout the neighborhood. The book itself leaned into the history of the place as a way to set the stage for South Downtown as a place of endless, untapped opportunity—and to share the vision of what’s to come.”
ICON’s South Downtown Atlanta piece showcases paper, design and printing, and they thought of Mohawk immediately when conceptualizing it due to “the depth and quality of” the product.
According to ICON, “Originally, we had a pretty massive list of stocks, but as with most projects of this kind, budget ultimately reeled us in. We landed on a set of workhouse sheets that balanced variety with the functional requirements of showcasing the rich imagery and finishing processes employed like clear foil stamping.”
Several years ago ICON worked with Mohawk on a project, a magazine booklet, for Cooper Carry called ‘HERE’ that went on to win several awards.
“The paper always prints beautifully and Mohawk is a wonderful partner,” ICON says on working with Mohawk. “This partnership also helped us secure the printer [Adams Litho] on the project.”
A technically difficult piece to produce, ICON and Adams had many conversations, comps and late nights to make sure the piece could be printed as it was designed. “There were several tests on the foil for the front two pages, pocket and UV maps,” says ICON on the topic of production, “It could have caused frustration for many printers, however, they [Adams] put in the extra time and extra effort to make this a very special piece.”
And a very special piece it is. The finished book is 11x15, anchored by a logo made up of different typographic elements and 9 different papers spanning an array of grades and ranging in weight from 70 text to 110 double thick cover sourced through Mac Papers. This piece is as ICON states, “a great example of how sometimes the best role we can play as designers isn’t to create a new story, but to lean into the roots of the story that exists.”
- Curious Collection Translucents Bright White 27 Writing
- Mohawk Skytone Vellum New White 60 Text
- Mohawk Superfine Eggshell Ultrawhite 80 Text
- Mohawk Options Navajo Smooth Brilliant White 70 Text
- Mohawk Loop Smooth Birch 70 Text
- Mohawk Loop Smooth Pure White 110 Double Thick Cover
Second in a series of “city guides,” Italic Studio created Indoek’s St. Augustine Issue featuring interesting stories, photography and a variety of colored paper.